Colluvio Gentium

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Fire and Gear

It takes some time before you have a good notion on how to cook on an open fire. The right fire is one of the most important elements. When cooking you should not be worrying for more wood. Also the right cooking gear help make a decent meal in a relative short time. Normally for the early Medieval period one should use pottery for making porridges and stews. Vikings used soapstone pots as well, but they are hard to find in the Low Countries. Mostly we use iron kettles and cauldrons, that tend not to break during transportation. We have a few pans for baking and an iron grill. It is very important not to use soap for cleaning. They tend to rust easily then and to burn the food much faster. Only boiling hot water should be enough en then let dry. If the iron is not greasy to the touch, we use a oiled cloth to scrub the surface.

Where to start

When trying authenti-cooking we realised we had lots of ingredients we had to set aside as they are not originally from Europe. Forget the potatoes, tomatoes, paprikas, eggplants and the like and start to look at food in a very different way.
There are some books with so-called medieval recipes, but they mostly have 2 problems:
1. Often the ingredients are not originally from Europe and
2. The instructions are adapted to modern kitchen gear. So the instruction can read like "pre-boil the peas in the microwave for some minutes...".

Eh, right that is not very useful when you are standing in a reconstructed Viking house with just one fireplace to do the job. Most books are based on late Medieval cookbooks, from households and monasteries, and use ingredients that were normal for that time but not for early medieval purposes. A useful book on cooking techniques is "Primitive Cooking" from Jaqui Wood. We can assume that cooking techniques were a bit more sophisticated in the Viking Age, but the are loads of ingredients we have turned our backs to that are to be rediscovered. ... And the stews are really good!

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